Not so Humanitarian After All? Assessing EU Naval Mission Sophia
Marianne Riddervold and Ruxandra-Laura Bosilca
This paper adds to our understanding of the role of norms in EU foreign and security policy by a critical assessment of the EU’s naval mission Sophia. Studies suggest that the EU is a ‘humanitarian’ foreign policy actor, foremost promoting human rights and multilateral cooperation. This is also how the EU often describes itself, including when justifying Sophia. Critiques of Sophia have however questioned its legitimacy, claiming instead that its main aim is to reduce the flow of sea-born migration to the EU. Studying the relevance of this claim, we find that although Sophia is a search and rescue operation, the EU does not live up to all the human rights standards it has set for itself in the conduct of the mission. Instead, as the refugee crisis continues and Sophia is amended, the EU seems to be moving towards becoming more of a traditional foreign policy actor.